China's moon rover prepares for a rough ride on the dark side

China's moon rover prepares for a rough ride on the dark side

China's moon rover prepares for a rough ride on the dark side

It's the first-ever soft landing on the side of the moon that faces away from Earth.

The rover, which had been put in "standby" mode to protect it from the Sun's heat, was then switched on and, along with the Chang'e-4 probe, took pictures of the landing site and its surroundings.

"The Chang'e-4 mission is the first of the fourth phase of China's lunar exploration mission, and it's the first time in human history that a spacecraft realized soft-landing and toured the far side of the moon".

China on Friday broadcast pictures taken by its rover and lander on the far side of the moon, in what its space programme hailed as another triumph for the groundbreaking mission.

At 4:47 p.m. BJT on Friday, the images of the lander and the rover appeared on a large screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center, showing the Chinese national flag on both the lander and the rover with the desolate landscape dotted with craters on the far side of the moon as the background.

In a statement, China's lunar exploration programme (CLEP), explained that the probe landed in the Von Karman crater in the Aitken Basin in the South Pole of the moon.

"From the panorama, we can see the probe is surrounded by lots of small craters, which was really thrilling", Li was quoted as saying. The rugged terrain will pose great challenges for planning the route of the rover, said Li.

The CNSA also released a video of the landing process of the Chang'e-4, which was produced by processing more than 4,700 pictures taken by a camera on the probe. The moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate that it orbits our planet, so the far side - or the "dark side" - is never visible from Earth. The Chang'e 4 is shown adjusting its altitude, speed and pitch as it seeks to avoid craters and uneven surfaces before it lands.

The Chang'e-4 probe is equipped with instruments developed by scientists from Sweden, Germany and China to study the lunar environment, cosmic radiation and the interaction between solar wind and the moon's surface, Zhang Hongbo, chief designer of the ground application system, told state broadcaster CCTV.

China's national space agency has released the first panoramic images of the far side of the Moon since the historic landing earlier this month.

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